By: Joseph Mutua Ndonga
- Let me explain why? One would have expected them to first carry out a thorough probe and scrutiny. This is with a view to finding out whether the Government of Kenya was catering the expenses of the all the delegates. They failed to do this.
- As it turned out, the state was only paying the bills of 51 of them. These were state officers, who companied the President, and they were not joyriders.
- They were there to undertake the duties assigned to them by the head of state.
- The expenses of the rest of delegates were catered by the local and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
As the deliberations at the COP28 climate change summit taking place in Dubai continued, I read a headline story featured by one of the mainstream newspaper here in Kenya.
The story sought to cast President William Ruto in bad light by creating the impression that Kenya is topping the list of the countries with largest number of the delegates.
While ranking Kenya on 13th position with more than 600 delegates, the authors cited the registration forms and badges issued.
They wanted Kenyans to believe that the government of Kenya has sponsored all them.
For this reason, President Ruto was not walking the talk.
He had a few days earlier unveiled a raft of austerity measures.
One of them was to reduce foreign travels and cut down on budgetary allocations for the essential trips.
The accommodation money and subsistence allowances for the state officers would be mainly targeted.
To me, the authors of the story were not factual and it seems they were pushing the agenda of anti-Ruto forces.
Let me explain why? One would have expected them to first carry out a thorough probe and scrutiny. This is with a view to finding out whether the Government of Kenya was catering the expenses of the all the delegates. They failed to do this.
As it turned out, the state was only paying the bills of 51 of them. These were state officers, who companied the President, and they were not joyriders.
They were there to undertake the duties assigned to them by the head of state.
The expenses of the rest of delegates were catered by the local and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
It is worth noting that two lists of the state officers who would accompany the President had earlier been submitted to him.
One of them contained 195 officials. He rejected it. The number was reduced to 95. He also rejected it. He finally settled on 51 officers.
This clearly demonstrated that the President believed in austerity measures he had unveiled.
In Dubai, President Ruto once again scored highly. He managed to secure green deals worth Sh640 billions. The monies will be invested in projects meant to actualize the theme of United Arab Emirate clean energy pipeline. Kenya is set to become the pioneer of Africa Green Industrialization Initiative.
President Ruto’s star in Dubai had been shining. This started before he arrived. In one of the sessions, the world leaders led by Bill Gates, UK Foreign Affairs Minster Cameron and President of Tanzania Madam Suluhu Hassan showered him with accolades.
The President of Kenya is showing us the way. We have learnt big lessons from him on how to mitigate climate change.
The Dubai summit comes just a few months after Dr Ruto convened an inaugural Africa Climate Change summit in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital city.
This forum endorsed and adopted a raft of resolutions. Dubbed the Nairobi declaration, President Ruto led African leaders in reaching a consensus to push for the adoption of the blueprint during the forthcoming COP28. The forum is currently underway.
At the time, Dr Ruto stated. The declaration outlines the position of Africa. We will not allow the powerful nations to water it down. We will stand firm. In Dubai, he is walking the talk.
Kenya is one of the countries that has been hit hard by adverse effects of climate change.
First, it was the drought rated to be the worst in 40 years. Dr Ruto had no option but to channel all public resources towards battling the biting hunger.
Today, the country is experiencing El nino phenomena. The downpours have left a trail of destruction. The government spokesman stated a few days ago more than 100 people have so far lost their lives. The situation could have been worse if the government did not respond with speed.
Deputy President Gachagua had been coordinating multi-sectoral disaster response teams.
In one of the emergency meetings with the teams, DP noted. Our efforts are bearing the fruits. We have saved the lives of many Kenyans and secured their properties. Keep it up. If you can do more, please do. We must save the lives of our people, he reiterated.
It is worth noting that President William Ruto is not only a leading champion of matters climate change in Africa. He has lately emerged as a global leader.
Before Nairobi climate summit, African heads of state and government gathered at Africa Union (AU) headquarters in Addis Ababa Ethiopia during which they adopted the proposal by Dr Ruto on Africa to take a proactive role in these endeavors.
Our continent of Africa is bearing the brunt of this problem and our contribution to it is very little. The powerful and industrialized countries of Europe and Asian were the leading culprit.
The fossil fuel is the main source of carbon emissions which contribute heavily to the change of climate.
Our plea to them to shift to the renewable energy has not yielded much fruits.
As Africans, we have a responsibility to explore ways of helping our people.
This explains why the Africa Union (AU) secretariat on Climate change chose Nairobi to host the inaugural summit.
Besides dozens of heads of state from Africa, the representatives of the global leaders, renowned environmentalists and scholars are in attendance.
It is worth noting the summit comes against the backdrop of the dozens of international Conferences dubbed conference of Parties (COPs).
The one held in France drafted the Paris Agreement and the issue of raising funds to mitigate the effects of the climate change featured prominently.
The world’s leading players of air pollution would make big commitments but would not keep their words.
In subsequent COP conferences, the same agenda would be revisited.
Commitments would be made and again end up being unmet.
Besides this, the leaders of the superpowers would also turn deaf ear or do very little towards the implementation of the other resolutions passed. This is unlike the leaders of Africa nations.
President Ruto would not take this matter lightly. During one of earlier COP conference he posed. Were these forums necessary? Were they adding any value to the course of environmental conservation? This is by reversing the devastating effects of climate change.
The forums have become empty talk shows. What is the point of holding them if we don’t implement the resolutions?
Climate change is a global problem.
So, he would urge the leaders of rich countries to reconsider thier position and take this matter seriously.
In Kenya, President Ruto has since launched a series of programmes for mitigation.
One of them is dubbed greening Kenya that seeks to ensure 15 billion trees are planted by the year 2030.
The president kicked off this campaign at Ngong Forest. He has so far planted many trees and mobilized all state officers to follow his footsteps.
The President is also providing leadership towards phasing out of fossil fuel powered vehicular and industrial machines.
They would be replaced by electric cars. As a show of commitment, the President drove electric car to Kenyatta International Convention Center (KICC).
He had gone there to meet Africa Youth On Africa Climate Change a day before he officially opened the summit.
The fossil fuel produces the following petroleum products-jet fuel, petrol, diesel, kerosene, liquified petroleum gas (LPG).
Solar, wind, biogas are some other source of clean renewable energy. The president has also been calling on Kenyans to shift and embrace them.
In Kenya, the problems related to climate change were:Biting drought, famine, landslides, rising and overflowing of lake/dams waters and locust invasion.
As an observer, my message to Africa leaders is.
A time has come for Africa to rise up to the occasion. What do I mean? Africa leaders should explore ways of raising thier own resources that would go towards mitigating the effects of climate change.
This way, the superpowers will stop demeaning and looking down the people of Africa.
Here the message will be clear. It does not mean that Africa cannot survive. You need us and we need to you. So, if you think you are more superior and continue to treat us with utter disrespect, we can chart our own destiny.
You are main the players in air pollution and climate change. We are not therefore begging you when we tell you to honor your promises.
Joseph Mutua Ndonga is a writer and political analyst based in Nairobi